Random encounters, also known as random battles, are battles that occur when traveling from place to place on foot, and have been a recurring tradition in the Final Fantasy series. They can occur at any time when walking on the overworld or in a dungeon.
The enemies a player can meet vary both on where they are in the game and the terrain they are on. For example, the forest may contain enemies not found in the plains. Some enemies have a very low encounter rate, and thus are almost impossible to find.
There are several ways to prevent random encounters. The player could reduce or eliminate random encounters entirely by traveling on an airship or chocobo, equipping an equipment piece e.g. Molulu's Charm in Final Fantasy VI, or learning an ability e.g. GF Diablos's Enc-None ability in Final Fantasy VIII. Some games also have methods to raise the frequency of random encounters, which is useful for level grinding.
In the very early games of the series, whenever the player character takes a step, there is a small chance that a random encounter will initiate. With this method, there is a possibility that the player can encounter an enemy with each consecutive step. Conversely, the player can traverse an entire dungeon floor without encountering a single enemy. This was corrected in later games by using an algorithm that chooses a random number between two set integers after an enemy party is fought. This number is the number of steps the player character can make before encountering the next enemy party.
After each battle the game generates a random number between 50 and 255. For each step taken the value counts down. When the number hits 0 a random battle begins.
- On the world map on foot each step decrements the value by 6.
- Inside of a dungeon each step decrements the value by 5.
- On the world map while sailing on a ship each "step" decrements the value by 2.
- On damage floor, while riding the airship, while in a seaport, or inside a town, the value doesn't decrease (no random battles occur).
There are certain map squares where battles always occur. These are the fixed encounters and fighting a fixed encounter does not reset the value. The number resets whenever it hits zero and a random battle occurs, or when a game is started or reloaded. The number is not reset by entering a town.
In the Origins version and possibly also other post-NES versions, the game calculates a given number of steps until the next encounter using a random element. This number decreases every step until it gets to 0 when the player has a random encounter. This number is permanently stored and is also stored within save files. This means that if the game is reloaded, the player will always have the same amount of steps until the next encounter. The number of steps until the next random encounter is calculated after a battle.
The SNES version picks a random number from [0..255] for each step and if the picked number is smaller than the locations encounter rate, a random encounter occurs. Typical encounter rates range between 7 and 10.
In certain parts of the story the party will encounter bosses while walking in the dungeon (after fighting them in a boss battle) to either escape them or find another way to beat them.
The original SNES version determines the rate of random encounters with a "danger counter:"
- Random Battle occurs; set danger counter to 0.
- Each step, add n to the counter and pick a random number from [0..255].
- If the random number is smaller than counter%256, loop back to step 1.
(n being the increment that is determined by the encounter rate of the location).
A new danger counter has been added to the Mobile/PC version which fixes an encounter glitch present in the original version. The original counter is also still present, but it is not used to determine the next encounter.
Each area has four possible battles (enemy formations) that may happen and the game rolls a randomly generated number between 0 and 255 to see which of the battles is drawn up. There are two commonly occurring battles (90/256), one slightly rarer battle (60/256) and one rare battle (16/256) in each area. In some areas the player can fight only one kind of monster, which means that all four possible battles are exactly the same, so there is no difference in which of the identical battles the game draws up.
The Advance version adds some new jobs to the roster, the new Oracle job learns the ability Read Ahead that lowers the chance of random encounters. Another new job, the Gladiator, learns the Lure ability that makes random encounters more frequent. Neither ability stacks, so it is pointless having multiple copies of the abilities equipped at the same time on different party members.
The game is divided into areas with different areas having different random enemy formations and encounter rates. The overworld has different assignments for grasslands, forests, deserts and wastelands. The Veldt, Towns and Dungeons also have their own assignments. A notable location of random encounters is the dinosaur forest north of Veldt.
While moving on the field, the game increments a "danger counter" and for each step, a random number between 0 and 255 is generated; if the number is less than [counter / 256] a random battle occurs. The counter is set to 0 afterward. This counter can be altered using relics, specifically the Ward Bangle for the party leader, or Molulu's Charm for Mog.
Enemies are randomly encountered both in certain dungeons and in areas on the world map, with different encounter rates per area. The Enemy Lure and Enemy Away Materia can be used to increase or reduce the encounter rate specifically.
On the world map, several special encounters can occur involving Mystery Ninja, when recruiting Yuffie from a forest, or involving Chocobos while the Chocobo Lure Materia is equipped. In addition to this, as with Final Fantasy VI, several special formation battles (Back Attack, Side Attack, and Pincer Attack) can occur.
Random encounters occur generally all around the world map, except in the forest around North Crater, the forest around Bone Village, the coral area between the Sleeping Forest side of the Corel Valley and the Forgotten City, or on the bridges in Wutai. Random encounters don't happen if the player is riding a chocobo, submarine, Tiny Bronco or Highwind, but still occur while riding on the buggy. The player must travel a certain distance on the world map after an encounter or exiting a location before they can get into a random encounter. Encounters are divided by the world map area one is in (displayed in the menu), and each area has four different sets. These sets are for grass, dirt or snow, beach, and miscellaneous. Miscellaneous terrain is often used for forests or deserts, though it is also used for the canyon terrain in the Cosmo Area and the Great Glacier Snow Field terrain considered a part of the Icicle Area.
Due to the inescapable battles glitch, some random encounters are impossible to flee from. Battle encounters are skipped in the player opens the menu right when the battle was meant to initiate. This can lead to the repeating boss glitch, where the skipped random battle results in the player fighting a boss twice. Although not random encounter, if the player skips the Diamond Weapon boss, they will become stranded, unable to finish the game, as the scene where the Sister Ray is fired never triggers. Encounter rates were higher in the original Japanese version, and in future releases every area has had its encounter rate reduced by varying amounts.
Random encounters happen while on the world map and on the field in dungeons.
While on the world map, every step the player takes the game performs a check to decide whether a battle starts or not. There is a variable that increases each time the check is performed. If the variable + LocationMod is greater than a number randomly generated between 0 and 255, a battle starts.
- 12 player is in a forest
- 128 player is on Island Closest to Heaven or Island Closest to Hell
- 2 anywhere else
Diablos's Enc-Half reduces the encounter rate to a quarter (despite its name), and Enc-None prevents all random encounters.
Generally the random encounters in forests are harder than the ones on the field, such as on the Balamb island T-Rexaur is only encountered in the forest near Fire Cavern and Ruby Dragon is only encountered in the forests of Centra region. In Ultimecia Castle the player can encounter most enemies fought throughout the game as random encounters.
In Centra Ruins fighting Tonberries as random encounters is required in order to fight Tonberry King. In the Esthar region the enemies fought on the world map change: on the first visit the player fights Mesmerizes and Malboros, but after the Lunar Cry they have been replaced by Imps, Toramas and Behemoths. Some enemies are only encountered extremely rarely, such as the Chimera in the Dingo Desert.
The original version offered the player no ability or accessory to affect the rate random encounters occur. Many players wishing to acquire the Excalibur II, which can only be done in the first 12 hours of the game, will try to find ways to reduce the frequency of random encounters. One method is to tap the movement buttons in only small increments while walking on the world map, and one is unlikely to get into encounters. The possibility of random encounters on the world map is not eliminated this way, but is greatly reduced. Because the Ragtime Mouse encounters are unrelated to this trick, the player can force Ragtime Mouse encounters by tapping the button repeatedly while walking through forests filtering out regular encounters.
Resetting the game when an unwanted encounter happens is another method that can used when not on the world map, as the chance to get into a random encounter is reset every time one enters a new screen, so whether or not one gets an encounter on one screen doesn't affect whether or not one will get one in the next screen.
The 2016 re-release offers an option to turn off random encounters, making the previous methods unnecessary and greatly reducing the difficulty towards acquiring Excalibur II.
The game has a few special type of random encounter, namely the encounters with the friendly monsters and the encounters with the Ragtime Mouse. These battles have a different battle music, and only occur under specific conditions. Friendly monsters are fought in certain areas only, and their appearance may be tied to whether or not the player has encountered the previous friendly monsters in the quest. Ragtime Mouse only occurs in forests, and has a limited number of appearances per part of the game or disc, so the player can't just battle around in forests and finish the quest on the first opportunity.
Random encounter rate varies only little between areas and appears fairly constant. Some enemies encountered randomly appear very rarely, such as Tonberry at the Cavern of the Stolen Fayth and Simurgh at the Djose Highroad, a feature of great annoyance to many players, as the Monster Arena quest requires the player to capture 10 of each enemy.
It appears some enemies have a chance of being encountered in very specific parts of the area, and that the game resets the encounter order and frequency when a save is reloaded, letting the player battle some slightly different enemies if they try to reload their game.
Random encounters can be avoided altogether with the No Encounters armor ability. It is especially useful when trying to dodge 200 lightning bolts on the Thunder Plains. The Steam version of the HD Remaster includes Enemy Encounter Override feature, which can be toggled both to negate encounters or to increase them. If the player equips No Encounters and sets the Enemy Encounter Override feature to increase encounters, this function will override the equipment's effect.
The game's battle director was Tsuchida Toshiro, creator of the Front Mission series. When making maps for the game, he would consider how many meters the player would walk before getting into a battle, decide how many battles they player should get into, and then calculate how big the map should be based on that.
The enemy groups possible to encounter depends on which chapter the player is in. Like in its predecessor some enemies only appear extremely rarely, making it difficult for players who want to Oversoul each enemy to complete Shinra's Bestiary.
With the Lure Bracer accessory the base random encounter rate is raised by times 10.
As with Final Fantasy X, the Steam version includes the Enemy Encounter Override feature to negate or increase encounters at will. Unlike the Charm Bangle, negating random encounters using Enemy Encounter Override works even in Via Infinito.
Notably, Final Fantasy X-2 allows the player character to jump various obstacles, and it is possible to trigger a random encounter mid-jump.
Random encounters appear on the field after walking or jumping a certain distance, and engaging an enemy begins a battle. If the player strikes an enemy on the field with their weapon, they start the battle with a preemptive strike, gaining Haste and filling all enemies' chain gauges by 20%. If the enemy engages the player on the field, the battle starts without any bonuses. If the player tries to run away by keeping distance to the enemy but runs out of time in the Mog Clock before they can get clear of the enemy, the battle starts without the player being able to use the Retry option.
Certain areas are safe areas where there are no random encounters. Random encounters also don't happen during Live events. The Fragment Skill "Encounter Hunter" lets the player adjust the frequency of random encounters, and the Fragment Skill "Battlemania" increases the chance of encountering rare monsters.
Enemies randomly spawn while traversing the terrain, and certain areas have higher spawn rates (most notably in Chaos infusions). If Lightning gets a preemptive strike, opponents start with 10% less health when starting battle, or 25% when performed unnoticed. Failure to get a preemptive strike results in the enemies starting with full health (i.e. enemies strike first). There is a finite number of most enemies in the game, and they can be hunted to extinction. The last of a species is more powerful than the others of its type, and is known as the Last One. Different enemies spawn during different times of the day.
Though there are not traditional random encounters in Final Fantasy XIV, the FATE system serves as a similar event. They are time-limited battles which randomly spawn on different areas of the open world, being indicated on the map by a purple circle. Players may join them to fight and complete the objectives to obtain rewards. Some of the FATEs spawn at specific moments like special weather, or a completed chain of other FATEs.
In the Forbidden Land of Eureka instances, killing certain enemies may also force a FATE to spawn when the conditions are met.
While the majority of encounters are fixed, random encounters do still occur on occasion. Sabertusks, voretooths, saberclaws, havocfangs, coeurls and killer bees will randomly attack depending on the player's location. Gigantoads randomly appear while it is raining in Duscae and Cleigne.
Imperial assault craft randomly spawn and drop various troops and magitek armors at the party's location. These enemies will get progressively stronger. The party notifies Noctis about incoming dropships, and they are slow to get to the ground, so they can easily be avoided most of the time. However, dropships can spawn while the party is already engaged in battle, distracting party members from notifying Noctis, and in general making the imperials harder to avoid. They can even spawn while the party is still fighting a previous dropship. Dropships can also drop their troops on the road, forcing the party to clear them if they want to drive past them. Dropship enemies get progressively stronger as the player defeats them, culminating in MA-X Angelus-0, a superboss that can appear in chapter 15.
Daemons randomly spawn at night. The most common and dangerous are iron giants and later red giants. The Giants regularly spawn in the middle of the road, forcing the party out of the Regalia. Iron Giants are level 30 and can appear as soon the game starts, all but forcing the player to rest for the night until they become strong enough to defeat them. Once the party has defeated an Iron Giant, Red Giants, some of the strongest enemies in the game, can start spawning in their place.
Final Fantasy Tactics has something akin to random encounters, even though it does not have dungeons or a traversable overworld. When the player travels over the world map they pass over the "dots" that signify battlefields. Traveling over those locations gives a chance of encountering a group of enemies in that location's battlefield. Each battlefield has unique weather conditions and possible enemy formations depending on the calendar and what chapter the player is in.
Random encounters occur on the world map. The player cannot flee from them unless a Teleport Stone is consumed. The player can cycle through their whole fourteen member party, however, and will only get a Game Over if everyone is killed. The player can avoid random encounters by riding on a chocobo.
Random encounters randomly occur when traveling on the world map and through dungeons.
The player will randomly battle monsters when traveling on the world map and through dungeons.
The player is randomly thrown into battles when traveling through the world map and through dungeons. The Ninja class has abilities that can reduce the frequency of random encounters.
Random encounters happen when traveling in regular dungeons, but some have areas with no random encounters whatsoever:
- Branches 5-8 of Pyreglow Forest.
- The Landfall area of The Low Seas.
- Scar 5 of The Dragon Scars.
- Fen 1 of The Windswept Mire.
- The entirety of Underground Prison.
- Quacheon 5 of The Sunken Temple.
- The Sixth and Seventh Floors of The Crystal Tower.
- Ascents 3 and 5 of The Chainroad.
- Ordeal 10 of Castle Exnine.
Any of the "secret" areas of dungeons where certain Mirages are encountered, as well as areas where bosses are fought (excluding those in The Watchplains, Icicle Ridge, Valley Seven, The Windswept Mire, and EX Dungeons A, B and C), also do not contain any random encounters.
The player can equip the Stealth and Read Ahead Mirajewels (the latter found only in a New Game+ file in the Maxima version) to reduce the chances of facing random encounters, while equipping a Lure Mirajewel increases it.
- Final Fantasy VIII Battle Mechanics FAQ by ForteGSOmega
- (2021, July 28). "How kamikaze pilots inspired FFX – Final Fantasy X 20th Anniversary Developer Interview (Part 2/4)". From Frontline Gaming JP. Archived from the original on 1 August, 2021.